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Full text of "Sketches"




SKETCHES BY 

AMUEL PROUT 



INFRANCE.BELSIUM 
GERMANY. ITALYAND 
5WITZERLAND.ee 




, \ 



SKETCHES BY 
SAMUEL PROUT 

IN FRANCE, BELGIUM ^f 

GERMANY, ITALY n '';Y?% 

AND SWITZERLAND 



SKETCHES BY 

SAMUEL PROUT 

IN FRANCE, BELGIUM, GERMANY 
ITALY AND SWITZERLAND 



EDITED BY CHARLES HOLME 

TEXT BY 
ERNEST G. H ALTON 



MCMXV 

"THE STUDIO" LTD. 
LONDON, PARIS, NEW YORK 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



PLATE I. View in Ghent. 


PLATE XXXIII. Nuremberg. 


II. Samuel Prout. 


XXXIV. 


By John Jackson, R.A. 


XXXV. Ratisbon. 


III. Chartres. 


XXXVI. 


IV. Tours. 


XXXVII. Augsburg. 


V. 


XXXVIII. Ulm. 


VI. Amboise. 


XXXIX. Munich. 


VII. Lyons. 


XL. Brunswick. 


VIII. Strasbourg. 


XLI. Dresden. 


IX. 


XLII. 


X. 


XLIII. 


XI. Antwerp. 


XLIV. 


XII. Brussels. 


XLV. Prague. 


XIII. Bruges. 


XLVI. 


XIV. Ghent. 


XLVII. 


XV. Louvain. 


XLVIII. 


XVI. Malines. 


XLIX. 


XVII. 


L. Milan. 


XVIII. Liege. 


LI. Domodossola 


XIX. Tournai. 


LII. Como. 


XX. Utrecht. 


LIII. Venice. 


XXI. Cologne. 


LIV. 


XXII. Andernach. 


LV. 


XXIII. Coblence. 


LVI. 


XXIV. Igel. 


LVII. 


XXV. Braubach. 


LVIII. Rome. 


XXVI. Mayence. 


LIX. Basle. 


XXVII. Frankfurt. 


LX. 


XXVIII. 


LXI. Schaffhausen. 


XXIX. Wiirzburg. 


LXII. Geneva. 


XXX. 


LXIII. 


XXXI. Bamberg. 


LXIV. Lausanne. 


XXXII. 


LXV. Sion. 



PLATE I 




"VIEW IN GHENT." FROM THE WATER- 
COLOUR DRAWING BY SAMUEL PROUT 




THE LIFE AND ART OF SAMUEL 

PROUT. By Ernest G. Halton 

HE true student and lover of architecture may 
admire a noble building of past centuries, he 
may note its agreeable proportions and the 
beauty of its details ; but it is the glory of its 
age, its associations, its message from the past, 
and its quiet atmosphere of dignity and repose 
which will appeal to his imagination by giving 
to it an indefinable human attribute which 
responds to and satisfies his higher senses. The 
artist who sets himself to portray picturesque architecture, whether 
it be the simple beauty of a rustic cottage, a group of old houses in 
some mediaeval town, or the noble grandeur of a venerable cathedral, 
must possess something more than mere technical skill as a draughts- 
man or a fine sense of colour. He must bring to his task sympathy 
and reverence, a keen appreciation of the symbolic value of the ancient 
relics of the past, and a feeling for the sublime romance which hovers 
around old buildings. Be the outward forms rendered ever so faith- 
fully, the result will not satisfy unless the artist can give expression to 
those inherent qualities which are inseparable from his subject. The 
lack of ability to comprehend and to suggest these higher and more 
subtle elements is the reason why so many pictures of ancient archi- 
tecture are wanting in interest. 

Amongst the few artists who have achieved fame as painters and 
delineators of picturesque architecture Samuel Prout holds a unique 
position, and his success was in no small measure due to the fact tnat 
his deep sympathy with, and delight in, his subject are manifest in his 
works, whether it be a delicate lead pencil drawing, a water-colour, or 
one of his better-known lithographs. In them are revealed those 
higher attributes to which we have just referred; and it is impossible to 
contemplate one of his characteristic works without feeling that here 
we have an artist who has successfully found for himself an ideal means 
of expression. The old towns of the Continent, with their picturesque 
houses, time-worn churches, and busy market-places, were a constant 
source of joy to him, and in the rendering of them he was umivalled. 
His friend Ruskin, than whom Prout never had a greater admirer, 
in his Modern Painters^ says : "His renderings of the character of old 
buildings, such as that spire of Calais, are as perfect and as heartfelt 
as I can conceive possible ; nor do I suppose that anyone else will ever 
hereafter equal them." 
But before considering the various aspects of Prout's achievements 



in that particular phase of pictorial art in which he ultimately "found" 
himself, it is desirable that a brief account should be given of his 
earlier life, and an attempt made to trace the development of his 
art up to the time of his first visit to the Continent, in 1819, an 
event which was to have a far-reaching effect on his career. Born 
at Plymouth on the ijth September 1783, he was barely five years 
old when, wandering forth alone one hot day, armed with a hooked 
stick to gather nuts, he was found by a farmer towards evening lying 
under a hedge prostrated by sunstroke, and was brought home 
insensible. This unfortunate occurrence so impaired his health that 
he was for many years subject to violent pains in the head, and, as 
he told a biographer, until thirty years after his marriage not a week 
passed without one or two days of absolute confinement to his room 
or to his bed. " Up to this hour," he wrote towards the end of his 
life, "I have to endure a great fight of afflictions ; can I therefore be 
sufficiently thankful for the merciful gift of a buoyant spirit ? " 
Prout's father, a man of much individuality and power of mind, was 
a mercer in Plymouth, and he intended that his son should follow 
the same calling. But quite early in life a love of drawing mani- 
fested itself, and, probably on account of the boy's delicate health, 
his parents were not disposed to discourage it. He was fortunate in 
being placed under a schoolmaster who urged him to persevere with 
his drawing. Later on, when he was sent to the Plymouth Grammar 
School, he again found his headmaster, the Rev. Dr. John Bidlakc, 
himself an amateur painter, entirely in sympathy with his artistic pro- 
clivities. Together they made many excursions in the neighbouring 
country. 

At the Plymouth Grammar School he made the acquaintance ot 
Benjamin Robert Haydon (who afterwards attained notoriety by his 
historical paintings and by his bitter feuds with the Royal Academy), 
and though very different in temperament, the two lads used to wander 
forth together on half-holidays sketching round Mount Edgcumbe 
and along the shores of the Sound. It was during one of these excur- 
sions that they witnessed the wreck of the Dutton, a large " East 
Indiaman " which ran ashore on the 26th January 1796. The 
incident made a deep and lasting impression on the two boys, and it 
afterwards formed the subject of some of Prout's works, e.g., " The 
Wreck" (1815); "Dismantled Indiaman" (1819 and 1820); 
"Wreckers under Plymouth Citadel" (1820) ; "Dismasted Indiaman 
on Shore" (1820) ; "A Man-of- War Ashore" (1821) ; "An India- 
man Ashore" (1822) ; and "Indiaman Dismasted" (1824). 
In an article by Ruskin which appeared in The Art Journal in 1849 
the scene is graphically described thus : " The wreck held together 
2 



for many hours under the cliff, rolling to and fro as the surges struck 
her. Haydon and Prout sat on the crags together and watched her 
vanish fragment by fragment into the gnashing foam. Both were 
equally awestruck at the time ; both, on the morrow, resolved to 
paint their first pictures ; both failed ; but Haydon, always incapable 
of acknowledging and remaining loyal to the majesty of what he had 
seen, lost himself in vulgar thunder and lightning. Prout struggled 
to some resemblance of the actual scene, and the effect upon his mind 
was never effaced." 

Haydon's father was a bookseller in Pike Street, Plymouth, and 
attached to his premises was a reading-room where local people of 
literary and artistic tastes used to forgather. In December 1801 John 
Britton, the architectural antiquary, passing through Plymouth on his 
way to Cornwall in search of material for his Beauties of England and 
Wales, visited Haydon's reading-room and there made the acquaint- 
ance of Prout, who was then a youth of seventeen. Being shown 
some of his sketches of rock scenery and cottages, Britton invited the 
young artist to accompany him to Cornwall, offering to pay all his 
expenses, in return for which Prout was to make sketches for the 
Beauties of England. Having obtained the ready consent of his parents, 
young Prout accepted the invitation with delight and the two set out 
on their journey. Britton's intention, so he tells us in an article which 
appeared in The Builder at the time of Prout's death, was to enter the 
county at Saltash and continue the journey on foot until they reached 
Land's End, visiting and examining the towns, seats, ancient build- 
ings, and remarkable objects on or near the line of the main public 
road. "Our first day's walk," Britton wrote, "was from Plymouth to 
St. Germains through a heavy fall of snow. On reaching the latter 
borough town, our reception at the inn was not calculated to afford 
much comfort or a pleasant presage for the peripatetics through 

Cornwall in winter The object of visiting this place was 

to draw and describe the old parish church, which is within the 
grounds of the seat of Port Eliot, belonging to Lord Eliot. Prout's 
first task was to make a sketch of the west end of this building. 
.... My young artist was, however, sadly embarrassed, not know- 
ing where to begin, how to settle the perspective, or determine the 
relative proportions of the heights and widths of parts. He continued 
before the building for four or five hours, and at last his sketch was 
so inaccurate in proportion and detail, that it was unfit for engraving. 
This was a mortifying beginning both to the author and the artist. 
He began another sketch the next morning, and persevered at it 
nearly the whole day ; but still failed to obtain such a drawing as I 
could have engraved." 

3 



After this discouraging start the travellers moved on to Probus where 
Prout endeavoured to make a sketch of the church tower, a rather 
elaborate specimen of Cornish architecture. " A sketch of this was a 
long day's work," continues Britton, "and, though afterwards engraved, 
reflected no credit on the author or the artist. The poor fellow 
cried, and was really distressed, and I felt as acutely as he possibly 
could, for I had calculated upon having a pleasing companion in 
such a dreary journey, and also to obtain some correct and satisfactory 
sketches. On proceeding farther, we had occasion to visit certain 
Druidical monuments, vast rocks, monastic wells, and stone crosses, 
on the moors north of Liskeard. Some of these objects my young 
friend delineated with smartness and tolerable accuracy." 
They then proceeded to St. Austell and thence to Ruan Lanihorne, 
where they spent a very happy and comfortable sojourn of six days 
in the house of the Rev. John Whitaker, Prout making five or 
six sketches, which he presented to the " agreeable and kind Miss 
Whitakers " as tokens of remembrance. Britton described these sketches 
as " pleasing and truly picturesque." One appears to have impressed 
him specially. It depicted " the church, the parsonage, some cottages 
mixing with trees, the waters of the River Fall (sic), the moors in the 
distance, and a fisherman's ragged cot in the foreground, raised against, 
and mixing with the mass of rocks also, a broken boat, with nets, 
sails, etc. in the foreground." 

The next halting-place was Truro, where Prout made a sketch of the 
church. This, however, failed to satisfy Britton and convinced him 
that it was useless to proceed any further with the arrangement. The 
two therefore parted company, Prout returning to Plymouth by 
coach, and Britton continuing on foot to Land's End. " This parting 
was on perfectly good terms," wrote Britton, " though exceedingly 
mortifying to both parties ; for his skill as an artist had been im- 
peached, and I had to pay a few pounds for a speculation which 
completely failed. It will be found in the sequel that this connec- 
tion and these adventures led to events which ultimately crowned 
the artist with fame and fortune." After his return to Plymouth 
Prout wrote a grateful letter to Britton, in which he said : "On Friday 
morning, after an unpleasant journey, I arrived at Plymouth. . . . 
I hope the latter part of your journey has proved better than the 
former. The remembrance of Ruan will never be eradicated from 
my memory. I am at present very busy learning perspective. When 
better qualified to draw buildings, I will visit Launceston, Tavistock, 
etc., and try to make some correct sketches which may be proper for 
the Beauties. My father is much obliged for your attentions to me, 
as I am, though conscious of my own un worthiness." 
4 



If it failed in the object Britton had in view, the tour was of the 
greatest benefit to Prout, for it proved that he was deficient in drawing 
and knowledge of perspective, and on his return he worked diligently 
to remedy these shortcomings. He studied and sketched at every 
opportunity, with the result that in the following May he was able to 
send Britton several sketches of Launceston, Tavistock, Oakhampton 
Castle, and other places, which, the latter tells us, " manifested very 
considerable improvement in perspective lines, proportions, and 
architectural details, and created a sensation with lovers of art." A 
few of these sketches were later engraved for the Beauties of England, 
and others for another of Britton's publications, The Antiquarian and 
Topographical Cabinet. 

So much encouragement did Prout receive that he decided to accept 
an invitation from Britton to come to London and try his fortune 
there. " The immediate effect of this change of position," wrote 
Ruskin, " was what might easily have been foretold, upon a mind 
naturally sensitive, diffident, and enthusiastic. It was a heavy dis- 
couragement. The youth felt that he had much to eradicate and 
more to learn, and hardly knew at first how to avail himself of the 
advantages presented by the study of the works of Turner, Girtin, 
Cousins, and others. But he had resolution and ambition as well 

as modesty He had every inducement to begin the race, 

in the clearer guidance and nobler ends which the very works that 
had disheartened him afforded and pointed out ; and the first firm 
and certain step was made." For two years Prout lived with Britton 
in Wilderness Row, Clerkenwell, during which period he spent much 
time studying and copying the sketches and drawings by Turner, 
Hearne, Alexander, Mackenzie, Cotman and others in the possession 
of his patron. Sometimes the young artist was taken to the studios 
of Benjamin West and Northcote, both of whom gave him valuable 
advice. On one occasion the former greatly delighted Prout by giving 
him some instruction in the principles of light and shadow, making 
several drawings to illustrate his points. This lesson made an in- 
delible impression on the mind of the pupil and Prout often referred 
to it in later years with gratitude. 

Haydon came to London soon after Prout and speedily attracted the 
notice of the younger artists by his personal eccentricities and precocity 
of genius. Prout was on friendly terms with him, but never very 
familiar. " There were but few traits of similitude of disposition 
in the two," says Britton. " One was modest, diffident, and mild : 
the other did not evince in his personal or professional character 
either of these amiable qualities." 
In 1803 and 1804 Prout was sent by Britton to Cambridge, Essex, 

5 



and Wiltshire to make sketches of buildings, monuments and scenery, 
some of them being engraved for the Beauties of England and others 
for Architectural Antiquities, from which fact we may imply that Prout 
now enjoyed his patron's full confidence. In 1803 Prout exhibited 
for the first time at the Royal Academy, his " Bennet's Cottage on 
the Tamar, near Plymouth," being hung amongst the water-colours, 
while the following year he was represented by " St. Keynes' Well, 
Cornwall." In 1805, however, his health broke down and he was 
compelled to return to his home in Devonshire. This year three of 
his drawings were hung at the Royal Academy Exhibition " Oak- 
hampton Castle, Devonshire," " Farleigh Castle, Somersetshire," and 
" The Grand Porch to Malmesbury Abbey Church, Wiltshire." 
Up to the time of his first visit to London Prout had not shown any 
decided leaning towards the class of subject which ultimately gained 
him fame. Many of his earlier efforts were inspired by the beautiful 
scenery in the neighbourhood of his home. Whole days, we are told, 
from dawn to night, were devoted to the study of the objects of his 
early interest, the ivy-mantled bridges, mossy water-mills, and rock- 
built cottages, which characterise the valley scenery of Devonshire. 
This direct sketching from nature, and his strong love of truth, saved 
him from developing a cramped and mannered style. He was, too, 
considerably interested in the shipping which formed so great a part 
of the life of his native town ; indeed, his marine drawings figured 
at exhibitions up till as late as 1839. During his visit to London, 
however, we find some indication of the direction in which his art 
was gradually tending. His three pictures exhibited at the Royal 
Academy in 1805, already mentioned, were of architectural subjects, 
and though for some years landscapes and marine subjects continued 
to occupy most of his attention, his love of ancient and picturesque 
buildings manifested itself in many of his drawings, especially those 
which were made for the various publications to which he contributed. 
A letter to Britton, dated October i6th, 1805, is published in Rogct's 
History of the "Old Water-Colour" Society, to which admirable and ex- 
haustive work we arc indebted for some of the details of Prout's career 
which are given here. This letter shows that on his return to Devon- 
shire, after the breakdown of his health in London, Prout soon occupied 
himself in sketching the scenery of his native country. " I am just 
returned after a months visit to the Dartmoors," he wrote. " I feel 
much strength from the influence of its pure air, and little Prout 
stands as firm as a Lion. My object has not been so much to make 
sketches as to find health. She lives on the highest torrs. I have her 
blessing. The subjects in my portfolio are generally rock-scenery, 
most of them colored and highly finished from nature. ... I 
6 



have made sketches of the vale at Lidford, Oakhampton and castle, 
the cross and chapel at South-Zeal, Crediton, the Logan-stone, 
etc. ... A little London news will be very acceptable. I still am 
tormented with a great partiality to the great city, the hope of ever 
seeing it again is on a slight foundation." Several of the sketches 
referred to in this letter appeared later in the Devon volume of the 
Beauties of England and Wales, some being executed by other artists 
from Prout's drawings. 

During the next year Prout remained in Devonshire, where he was 
chiefly occupied in making sketches, most of which he sold to Palser, 
of Westminster Bridge Road, for five shillings a-piece. This dealer 
was evidently a keen judge of artistic merit, for besides his early 
appreciation of Prout's work he was also one of the first to recognize 
the budding genius of David Cox. In 1808 Prout again exhibited 
at the Royal Academy, where he was represented by two works, 
"View on Dartmoor " and " Arthur's Castle at Tintagel, Cornwall." 
His address is given in the Catalogue as 55, Poland Street, so that the 
hope expressed in his letter to Britton quoted above was soon to be 
realized. He appears to have finally left Plymouth in 1 807 and 
settled in London. The following year he sent another Devonshire 
drawing to the Royal Academy, and for the first time he exhibited at 
the British Institution, "The Water-mill and Manor House near 
Plymouth" being the title of his work. In 1810 he showed two 
drawings at the Institution (one a sketch of the fire at Billingsgate), 
and one at Somerset House. In this year he was elected a member 
of the Associated Artists (or Painters) in Water-Colours, with which 
Society he was a fertile exhibitor until it ceased to exist. During 
his three seasons at its Bond Street Gallery he showed no less than 
thirty drawings, including views in Devonshire and Kent and a num- 
ber of studies in shipping. In 1810 Prout married Elizabeth, only 
surviving daughter of Captain Gillespie, a Cornishman and large 
shipowner, and settled at No. 4, Brixton Place, Stockwell, where he 
resided for many years. 

Prout's position as an artist was now fairly established. Not only were 
his pictures to be seen in most of the leading exhibitions, but his topo- 
graphic sketches which appeared in some of the popular publications 
also served to keep his name before the public. Reference to his con- 
tributions to Britton's Beauties of England and Wales and Antiquarian 
and Topographical Cabinet has already been made. In addition to these, 
thirty prints after his sketches were published by W. Clarke, of New 
Bond Street, during 1810-1 1, in a series entitled Relics of Antiquity. 
The work of several other artists was also represented in this publica- 
tion. Two years later appeared Proufs Village Scenery, published by 

7 



T. Falser. This is a set of eleven coloured plates " drawn and etched 
by Samuel Prout." Much of his time was now given up to teaching, 
and in 1813 R. Ackermann published the first of Prout's educational 
works. It was called Rudiments of Landscape, in Progressive Studies, and 
was issued in three parts, each containing twenty-four plates. Part I. 
shows picturesque studies, in soft-ground etching. In Part II. the 
shadows are indicated in aquatint. Part III. contains coloured aqua- 
tints. The accompanying letterpress is sound and practical. This 
work was the forerunner of many others which Prout prepared for the 
use of students, and we shall have occasion to refer later to the more 
important of them. 

Four works by Prout were hung in the Royal Academy exhibition 
of 1812, including a view of " Freshwater, Isle of Wight," and in 
1813 and 1 8 1 4 he was represented by seven and four pictures respec- 
tively. But in spite of this generous treatment his connection with 
the Academy appears to have gradually come to an end. It was 
1817 before he again showed there, and then he was represented by 
a single work. An interval of nine years elapsed before another 
picture, " The Ducal Palace, Venice," was hung. The following year, 
1 827, two more Continental subjects found their way to the Academy, 
but after that his name does not again appear in the catalogue. 
This severance of his connection with the Royal Academy may be 
accounted for by the fact that in 1815 Prout exhibited for the first 
time at the Oil and Water-Colour Society (now known as the " Old " 
Water-Colour Society) and thus commenced a long and honourable 
association with that body. Between that date and the time of his 
death he sent to its exhibitions no less than 547 drawings, the majority 
of which represented the zenith of his work as a watcr-colourist. The 
seven in the 1815 exhibition included drawings of Durham Bridge, 
Jedburgh Abbey and Kelso Abbey, from which we may imply that 
he had previously been visiting the North ; while his drawings of 
Old Shoreham Church, Worthing, Beachy Head and Hastings, shown 
in the 1816 and 1817 exhibitions, are evidences of a tour on the 
South coast. To the 1818 exhibition he again contributed seven 
works, four of them marine subjects, and the following year the eight 
drawings he sent included a " Dismasted Indiaman," to the inspira- 
tion of which we have referred on pages 2 and 3. 
Up till now his name had appeared in the catalogues among the 
ordinary exhibitors, but in 1819 he was elected a member of the 
Society. This year was an eventful one for Prout for two other 
reasons. First, it marked the end of what may be called the earlier 
period of his art ; second, it was the occasion of his first visit to the 
Continent. (Ruskin gives the date of this first visit as " about 1 8 1 8," 
8 



and Redgrave says definitely that it took place in that year. But 
Roget states, on the authority of a son of the artist, that this notable 
event did not happen until 1819, and the later date is to some extent 
confirmed by the fact that the first group of Prout's Continental 
subjects was exhibited in 1820, at the "Old " Water-Colour Society's 
exhibition.) It is true that in the following years a few views of English 
scenery and some marine subjects figure amongst the drawings he 
exhibited, but henceforth Prout's interest was centred almost entirely 
in his Continental drawings. 

In the foregoing pages the steady progress of Prout's career has been 
briefly traced, from the time when John Britton first encouraged the 
young artist by taking him on a sketching tour in Cornwall, to the 
eve of Prout's first visit to the Continent. We will now consider the 
result of this visit in the light of the important bearing it had upon 
the subsequent development of his art. It is generally admitted that 
had Prout never visited the Continent, had he been content to con- 
tinue to the end as a painter of English scenery and marine pieces, he 
would never have attained to anything approaching the position he 
ultimately reached. By carefully studying the works of the masters 
of water-colour, and by sedulously sketching at every opportunity, 
he had gained for himself an honourable position amongst his fellow 
artists ; while the numerous plates after his drawings which appeared 
in various publications had brought him considerable popularity. But 
this earlier work gives no indication of the development of that genius 
which was now to manifest itself. 

Ruskin has admirably described Prout's first visit to France, in an 
article which appeared in The Art Journal in 1849, as follows : "His 
health showed signs of increasing weakness, and a short trial of Contin- 
ental air was recommended. The route by Havre to Rouen was 
chosen, and Prout found himself for the first time in the grotesque 
labyrinths of the Norman streets. There are few minds so apathetic 
as to receive no impulse of new delight from their first acquaintance 
with Continental scenery and architecture ; and Rouen was of all the 
cities of France, the richest in those objects with which the painter's 
mind had the profoundest sympathy. It was other then than it is now; 
revolutionary fury had indeed spent itself upon many of its noblest 
monuments, but the interference of modern restoration or improve- 
ment was unknown. . . . All was at unity with itself, and the city 
lay under its guarding hills, one labyrinth of delight, its grey and 
fretted towers, misty in their magnificence of height, letting the sky 
like blue enamel through the foiled spaces of their crowns of open 
work ; the walls and gates of its countless churches wardered by saintly 

9 



groups of solemn statuary ; clasped about by wandering stems of sculp- 
tured leafage ; and crowned by fretted niche and fairy pediment 
meshed like gossamer with inextricable tracery. . . . The painter's 
vocation was fixed from that hour. The first effect upon his mind was 
irrepressible enthusiasm, with a strong feeling of a new-born attach- 
mentto Art,in a newworldof exceeding interest. Previous impressions 
were presently obliterated, and the old embankments of fancy gave 
way to the force of overwhelming anticipations, forming another and 
a wider channel for its future course." 

This eloquent and picturesque description of Prout's first impressions 
of the beauties of Rouen is doubtless in the main correct, but, judging 
by the titles of the drawings exhibited the following year, which were 
obviously the outcome of this first visit to France, the scenery of Nor- 
mandy appears to have inspired him quite as much as the architectural 
beauties of the town. "On the Seine at Duclair"; "At Fecamp, 
Normandy" ; "Near Yvetot, Normandy" ; "Scene on the Seine, 
near Rouen"; "Harfleur, Normandy"; and "Etretat, on the Coast of 
Normandy," suggest that he had not altogether thrown off his love 
for the themes of his earlier period, and only in the " St. Maclou, 
Rouen," and " Croix de Pierre, Rouen," do we find any indication of 
the new spirit which had taken possession of his artistic soul. With 
these Normandy drawings he exhibited eight English subjects, mostly 
marine, including three of the wrecked East Indiaman. 
More drawings of Normandy appeared in the 1821 exhibition, and in 
that year he visited Belgium and the Rhine provinces, with the result 
that in 1822 he exhibited drawings of "Lahnstein on the Rhine" ; 
" Metz " ; " Strasbourg " ; " Liege " ; "Mayence " ; " Andernach on 
the Rhine"; "Rheinfels, from St. Goarshausen on the Rhine"; and 
" Cat, from St. Goar on the Rhine." These were accompanied by two 
more versions of the wreck of the Dutton " Boats returning from a 
Wreck " and "An Indiaman Ashore," drawings of " Scarborough" 
and "On the Lid, Devon," and two sea-pieces. But, with the excep- 
tion of one or two marine sketches, these were the last English subjects 
Prout exhibited. From this time on to 1851 he showed year after 
year nothing but Continental pictures. To the exhibitions of the 
"Old" Water-Colour Society he sent between four and five hundred 
in all, and in addition to these he executed, for various art dealers and 
private patrons, many other drawings of foreign towns which were 
never publicly exhibited. About fifty views of France, Belgium, 
and Germany were shown in 1823 and 1824, one of Rouen Cathedral 
being of particular interest, as this grand old mediaeval pile was partly 
destroyed by fire shortly after Prout made his sketch. 
That the public was not slow to appreciate this remarkable develop- 
10 




Photo. Emir Walker. 



'SAMUEL PROUT." BY JOHN JACKSON. R.A. 

(From the painting in the National Portrait Gallery, London.) 



ment in Prout's art may be gathered from the fact that all his Conti- 
nental drawings at the 1822 exhibition were sold on the opening day. 
His brother artists, too, were generous in their praise. Especially 
interesting is a notice of the 1824 exhibition which appeared in 
the Somerset House Gazette, whose editor and critic, W. H. Pyne, 
the painter, possessed a keen artistic insight and a subtle sense of 
humour. " Much of the additional interest of the two or three last 
exhibitions of the Society," he wrote, " has been derived from the 
introduction of many fine topographical works, from the pictorial 
scenery of the Continent. We had begun to tire of the endless 
repetitions of Tintern Abbey from within, and Tintern Abbey from 
without, and the same by moonlight, and twilight, and every other 
light in which taste and talent could compose variations to the worn- 
out theme. So with our castles old Harlech, sturdy Conway, and 
lofty Carnarvon, have every year, of late, lost a century at least of 
their antiquity, by being so constantly brought before us, and if not 
let alone, will soon cease to be venerable. On the screen farthest 
from the entrance to this exhibition, are three topographical repre- 
sentations, which, for boldness of style, and picturesque feeling, we 
think superior to any works of the kind, of any school, ancient or 
modern. Had some hireling, itinerant, graphic ferret unearthed 
these treasures from the site of some Dutch burgomaster's villa, with 
the initials of old Rembrandt had they been a little worm-eaten, 
stained, and torn, the edges corroded, and had they smelt of 'dry (or 
even damp) antiquity? what a fortune had it been for the finder. 
These admirable traits of modern talent, however, do attract, and we 
were gratified in listening to the encomiums of many able judges 
upon their extraordinary merit. The subjects are ' At Frankfort,' 
' South Porch of Rouen Cathedral,' ' Porch of Ratisbonne Cathedral.' 
Such original examples of the picturesque give a new impulse to 

art There are some views of towns, and some river scenes, 

of large dimensions, by Mr. Prout, which, for pictorial character, 
originality of effect, depth of tone, and general energy of style, excel 
all his former works, and may be regarded as wonders in water- 
colours." 

In 1824 was issued Prout's first series of lithographic drawings ot 
Continental subjects. It consisted of twenty-four or twenty-five plates 
(increased in a later edition to thirty) and was published by Acker- 
mann under the title Illustrations of the Rhine, drawn from Nature 
and on Stone by S. Prout. These were followed by other and more 
important series of lithographs, to which we shall return later. 
During the next twenty years Prout made frequent journeys to the 
Continent in search of subjects to satisfy the enthusiasm which had 

1 1 



been aroused by his earlier visits to France and the Rhine. In spite 
of his delicate health and the discomforts of travelling, his quest took 
him far afield, to Utrecht and Brunswick in the North, to Rome in 
the South, and as far west as Prague, in Bohemia. Each year the 
results of these tours were to be seen at the annual exhibitions of 
the Water-Colour Society, and were received with delight by the 
artists and connoisseurs. And here it may be mentioned that, in spite 
of the popularity which his works enjoyed, he was always modest as 
regards his prices. He supplied certain country dealers, with whom 
he had been associated for many years, with drawings of an agreed size, 
about i o by 14 or 15 inches, at a fixed price of six guineas each ; 
while the drawings he made for exhibition he priced slightly higher. 
According to Ruskin, to the last he never raised his prices to his old 
customers, they could always have as many drawings as they wanted 
at six guineas each. This statement is scarcely borne out in a some- 
what painful letter Prout wrote two years before his death to Hewctt, 
the Leamington dealer, in which he said : " For a long time I have 
been at the seaside, in miserable health, scarcely able to leave the 
sofa and incapable of the least exertion even to writing a letter. . . . 
I know, my dear friend, that your kindness and liberality will not raise 
the question about prices ; but I am a great fidget and always fearful 
lest they should be beyond a saleable amount, as I wish my kind 
patrons to benefit themselves as well as myself. On looking at the 
drawing this morning, it did not appear up to the mark, and I felt 
half inclined to say something less than ten guineas ; but it took me 
a fortnight, and had my best attention. ... In consequence of old 
age and continued indisposition the quantity of the work will be 
lessened, but as family requirements will be the same I must ask kind 
friends to allow a small advance of prices, and what has been charged 
three guineas and half must be four guineas, though I hope ten guineas 
will answer for size sent." This letter not only proves that Prout 
did receive more than six guineas for his drawings, but it also shows 
how conscientiously he endeavoured to carry out his contracts. In 
the light of the modest sums mentioned here, it is interesting to note 
that in 1868, sixteen years after his death, one of Front's drawings 
of Nuremberg was sold at public auction for just over one thousand 
pounds. 

In 1824 Prout made his first journey to Italy and was deeply im- 
pressed by the architectural beauties of Venice, which later inspired 
some of his best-known drawings. " Since Gentile Bellini," wrote 
Ruskin, "no one had regarded the palaces of Venice with so affec- 
tionate an understanding of the purpose and expression of their 
wealth of detail. In this respect the City of the Sea has been, and 

12 



remains peculiarly his own ; there is, probably, no single piazza nor 
sea-paved street from St. Georgio in Aliga to the Arsenal, of which 
Prout has not in order drawn every fragment of pictorial material. 
Probably not a pillar in Venice but occurs in some one of his innumer- 
able studies ; while the peculiarly beautiful and varied arrangements 
under which he has treated the angle formed by St. Mark's Church with 
the Doge's palace, have not only made every successful drawing of those 
buildings by any other hand look like plagiarism, but have added (and 
what is this but indeed to paint the lily !) another charm to the spot 
itself." Five Italian subjects were included amongst the dozen drawings 
Prout sent to the Water-Colour exhibition of 1825 "PontediRialto, 
Venice" (two views) ; "Ponte della Canonica, Venice" ; "Portico di 
Ottavia, Rome"; and "Place St. Antoine, Padua," and henceforth his 
drawings of Italy, and especially his Venetian subjects, figured pro- 
minently amongst his exhibited works until 1851, the last year he was 
represented. 

It is unnecessary to follow in detail Prout's artistic progress from 1825 
onwards. Each year he continued to send regularly to the Water-Colour 
exhibition a dozen or more drawings, and with the exception of three 
marine pictures the inevitable "Indiaman Ashore" (1831) ; "A Ship- 
wreck "(1834) ; and "After the Storm" (1839) all were of architec- 
tural subjects from sketches made in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy 
and Switzerland. 

In 1829 Prout was appointed "Painter in Water-Colours in Ordinary 
to His Majesty," a similar honour being bestowed upon him by Queen 
Victoria and Prince Albert. He retained this distinction until his death. 
In 1830 he was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. 
In spite of the amount of time he spent travelling about the Conti- 
nent in search of subjects, and the large number of drawings he pro- 
duced each year either for exhibition or publication, Prout still found 
opportunities for personal teaching, and in addition he prepared some 
admirable educational works containing sound and practical hints for 
students and illustrated by his own sketches. Of the publications of 
this character issued before the Continental period reference has already 
been made (p. 8) to the Rudiments of Landscape, published in 1813. 
Six years later appeared Samuel Proufs New Drawing-Book in the manner 
of Chalk, containing Twelve Views in the West of England, and this was 
followed in 1 8 2 1 by a companion series, Samuel Prout's Views in the North 
of England. These were both issued from Ackermann's Repository in 
the Strand. In the interval which elapsed between the publication ot 
the two works just mentioned appeared A Series of Easy Lessons in 
Landscape Drawing, which was really a supplementary volume to the 
Rudiments. But more important than any of these earlier educational 

'3 



works were those which were issued nearly twenty years later, when 
Prout's art had reached its maturity. In Hints on Light and Shadow, 
Composition, etc., as applicable to Landscape Painting, first published in 
1838, the notes which accompany the plates are especially interesting 
because they are offered, the artist tells us, " as the basis of his prac- 
tice, and the result of his experience." Equally engaging is Prout's 
Microcosm, which was published three years later. It contains numer- 
ous lithographic reproductions from the artist's sketch-book of groups 
of figures, shipping, and other picturesque objects ; but of even more 
value to the student are the remarks on The Importance of Figures, 
when we consider with what unerring judgment and skill Prout in- 
troduced figures into his compositions. " It would be difficult to 
over-rate," he says, " the importance of correctly introducing figures 
into a picture. There are scenes where they would destroy the im- 
pressive and peculiar effect which characterises the spot ; while in 
others they are so essential that, if omitted, the representation would 
appear deficient and imperfect. Figures always give cheerfulness, 
and in a degree according to their number. In the streets and market- 
places of foreign towns they are indispensable, being crowded 'like 
flies in a summer day,' and the quantity giving character. Figures 
arc of much importance in every respect, but none should be intro- 
duced at random ; each must have its proper place, and always tend 
to the completeness of the picture. It should be constantly borne in 
mind that the effect will entirely depend on the skill and forethought 
with which such combinations are made. The want of arrangement is 
easily discovered : it makes all the distinction between the common- 
place, and what is built on principle and right feeling. Figures 
should always be characteristic and appropriate, as they identify scenes. 
They are also invaluable as an honest means of introducing lights, 
darks, and colours. They are as essential as a scale, leading the eye 
from one part of a picture to another, and giving to each part its true 
proportions. When many figures are introduced into a picture, there 
should always be one principal group and smaller groups, with here and 
there detached figures, to express distances, and render the composi- 
tion and effect more picturesque. It cannot be too often repeated, 
that without some scheme of arrangement an assemblage of objects 
will only be Lonfused, and the very number and diversity of parts 
will but perplex and bewilder the eye." The Microcosm was followed 
by An Elementary Drawing-Book of Landscape and Buildings ; and 
finally appeared Sketches at Home and Abroad, containing hints on the 
acquirement of freedom of execution and breadth of effect in land- 
scape painting. 
In addition to these educational works Prout made many drawings 



for reproduction in various topographical books. Most of these 
were engraved, or drawn on the stone by other hands. It is im- 
possible to deal with these illustrations in detail here, and reference 
will only be made to the two most important and successful series of 
drawings made direct on the stone by Prout himself, and published 
under the titles Facsimiles of Sketches made in Flanders and Germany 
(1833) and Sketches in France, Switzerland and Italy (circa 1839). 
The plates in monotone after Prout which accompany this article 
were all reproduced from these two works and we shall have occasion 
to deal with them more fully later. 

In 1835 Prout moved from Brixton Place to No. 2, Bedford Terrace, 
Clapham Rise ; but the following year a severe pulmonary attack 
compelled him to leave London and reside at Hastings, where he 
remained for some years. This banishment appears to have depressed 
him considerably, and in a letter to Hewett he wrote, " If you ask 
how I am most wretched. Plenty of sea in which I cannot swim 
this is not my element and therefore I die daily both body and 
mind." By 1 840, however, his health had so far improved that he was 
able to spend a part of the year in London, at 39, Torrington Square, 
returning to Hastings for the winter months ; and in 1845 he left 
Hastings altogether, establishing himself at No. 5, De Crespigny 
Terrace, Camberwell, which remained his home until his death seven 
years later. 

In 1846 Prout had so far recovered his health that he was able to 
make a journey to Normandy. This, however, proved to be his last 
visit to the Continent, and he returned home " a sad wreck," as he 
described his condition. From now until the end he grew steadily 
weaker ; but he was still able to work. "During the last six or seven 
years of his life," wrote S. C. Hall, in his delightful volume of 
reminiscences, Retrospect of a Long Life, "I sometimes (not often, for 
I knew that conversation was frequently burdensome to him) found 
my way into his quiet studio at Camberwell, where, like a delicate 
exotic, requiring the most careful treatment to retain life in it, he 
would, to use his own expression, keep himself ' warm and snug.' 
There he might be seen at his easel throwing his rich and beautiful 
colouring over a sketch of some old palace of Venice or time-worn 
cathedral of Flanders ; and, though suffering much from pain and 
weakness, ever cheerful, ever thankful that he had strength sufficient 
to carry on his work. It was rarely that he could begin his labours 
before the middle of the day, when, if tolerably free from pain, he 
would continue to paint until the night was advanced." 
Notwithstanding the lingering nature of his illness Prout's end 
was sudden, for he passed away at his home in a fit of apoplexy on 

15 



February loth, 1852, at the age of sixty-eight, leaving a widow, one 
son, Samuel Gillespie (also an artist), and three daughters, Rebecca, 
Elizabeth and Isabella. His nephew and pupil, John Skinner Prout, 
achieved considerable success as a painter, and while referring to 
Samuel Prout's descendants I wish to acknowledge my indebtedness 
to his great grand-daughter, Miss Edith M. Prout, herself an artist, 
who has kindly furnished me with some particulars of his life. 
" No member of his profession," wrote S. C. Hall, " ever lived to be 
more thoroughly respected beloved indeed by his brother artists ; 
no man ever gave more unquestionable evidence of a gentle and 
generous spirit, or more truly deserved the esteem in which he was 
universally held. His always delicate health, instead of souring his 
temper, made him more considerate and thoughtful of the troubles 
and trials of others ; ever ready to assist the young with the counsels 
of experience. He was a fine example of upright perseverance and 
indefatigable industry combined with suavity of manners, and those 
endearing attributes of character which invariably blend with admir- 
ation of the artist affection for the man. ... A finer example of 
meekness, gentleness, and patience I never knew, nor one to whom 
the epithet of 'a sincere Christian' in its manifold acceptations, 
might with greater truth be applied." 

It would not be possible to bring to a close more appropriately this 
brief biographical survey than by quoting the above sympathetic 
tribute to the personal qualities of Samuel Prout. 

Let us now consider some aspects of Prout's art as exemplified in the 
drawings of his second and greater period, a period in which the old 
and picturesque architecture of the Continent inspired him to give full 
expression to his artistic individuality. It is not necessary to possess 
great architectural knowledge to appreciate the charm of one of 
Prout's characteristic drawings. But to enjoy its more subtle beauties 
one must to some extent share with the artist that sympathy with 
the subject which is manifest in his work. " An artist must possess 
two qualities," said Josef Israels, " sentiment and the power to paint, 
and one is no use without the other, though the greater of these is 
sentiment ; for an artist cannot successfully paint a subject which 
does not arouse his emotion." Prout's sentiment was the picturesque, 
and to really understand his work one must have a feeling for archi- 
tecture of this character. Love of the picturesque may be easily 
traced in the works of Prout's earlier period ; and it was this same 
feature in the architecture of Rouen which stimulated his artistic 
perception and opened out to him a new field of pictorial interest. 
In interpreting the charm of the time-worn buildings of the Continent 
16 



he revealed his natural genius and adopted a technique which, if not 
entirely original, came to him as a logical means of expression. 
As a draughtsman with the lead pencil Prout had few equals, and as 
his health did not permit him to work long in the open air his 
original sketch was usually made in this medium. " His drawings, 
prepared for the Water-colour room," wrote Ruskin,"were usually no 
more than mechanical abstracts, made absolutely for support of his 
household, from the really vivid sketches which, with the whole 
instinct and joy of his nature, he made all through the cities of ancient 
Christendom, without an instant of flagging energy, and without a 
thought of money payment. They became to him afterwards a 
precious library, of which he never parted with a single volume as 
long as he lived." After the death of the artist many of these lead 
pencil drawings were sold and consequently dispersed ; but several 
were shown in the Galleries of the Fine Art Society, London, in 
1 87980, at a loan exhibition of drawings by Prout and William Hunt. 
In their spontaneity and expressive vitality Prout's pencil sketches have 
seldom been equalled. Every touch had its intent and meaning, not 
a superfluous line was added, and he never failed to preserve the feeling 
of freedom and freshness. He attached the utmost importance to 
the necessity for sound draughtsmanship. " Correct drawing," he 
wrote, " is essential to every great work of art ; nothing can atone for 
the want of it, as without it all other excellences will be valueless," 
and his lead pencil sketches bear eloquent testimony to the faultless- 
ness of his own draughtsmanship. 

Nor was he less happy in the manipulation of the reed pen which 
he employed in his finished drawings to outline the compositions. 
" The reed pen outline and peculiar touch of Prout are the only 
means of expressing the crumbling character of stone," said Ruskin, 
and it is generally agreed that no other artist has so successfully 
suggested the texture and aspect of old and decaying buildings. 
Redgrave charges Prout with hiding his lack of perception of beauty 
and refinement of detail under the broad markings of the reed pen. 
Was it not his comprehensive vision and freedom of style which 
impelled him to aim at generalisation, to suggest only the essentials 
and to avoid all distracting details ? I venture to think that had 
Prout introduced into his drawings laboured delineations of archi- 
tectural details his work would have lost one of its principal charms 
and most of its artistic significance. Prout himself has admirably 
expressed his views on this particular point in his Hints on Light and 
Shadow, thus : " Minute and elaborately finished pictures never 
strongly impress the mind, and are but mere curiosities to gratify 
persons insensible to higher excellences. Poetry does not consist in 

17 



words alone ; there must be sentiment and fancy, combination and 
arrangement. An analogous principle may be traced in music, and 
equally so in painting : the minor details are forgotten in the charm 
produced by the whole." These views, though sound enough in 
principle, would probably have been somewhat modified had they 
been written a few years later ; the masterpieces of the pre-Raphaelite 
Brotherhood, which aroused such a stormy controversy amongst art 
critics a year or two before Prout's death, could hardly have been dis- 
missed as " mere curiosities to gratify persons insensible to higher 
excellences," nor as pictures which "never strongly impress the mind." 
It would be interesting, too, to know Prout's estimate of the carefully- 
wrought works of his contemporary, William Hunt. 
Prout's broken line and peculiar touch were particularly well adapted 
to the rendering of ancient Gothic architecture, for they enabled him 
to express as no other method could the character of time-worn 
masonry, chipped, mutilated and weather-beaten. And it is for this 
reason that we find his drawings and lithographs of the Gothic 
buildings of France and Germany more interesting, more convincing 
and more expressive of his individuality than his views of Venice and 
other Italian places, where the character of the buildings was less 
amenable to the same technique. In spite of the popularity of the 
drawings of Venice, Milan, etc., it is the Northern Gothic rather than 
the Italian Gothic and Renaissance subjects which seem to me to 
embody the vital and finest qualities of Prout's art. 
Apart from his gifts as a draughtsman, Prout possessed a happy sense 
of composition, and was well versed in all that pertains to the build- 
ing-up of a picture. We have only to examine the reproductions 
given in this volume to realize this. "The chief business of the artist," 
he said, "should be to generalize ideas : he must possess feeling to 
avail himself of those occasional combinations which embellish, 
ennoble, and give grace to his subject." With his keen and compre- 
hensive vision he first conceived the scene and grasped at once the 
essentials of his picture, grouping and arranging his material to express 
the unity of the whole. Each individual feature was so disposed as 
to keep it subservient to the entire scheme and to preserve the balance 
of the composition. Each object had its proper place, and nothing 
was allowed to obtrude unduly, while no detail was introduced without 
intention. 

Mention has already been made of Prout's skill in introducing figures 
into his compositions. It is one of the most striking characteristics 
of his art. He peopled his scenes with picturesquely clad figures, either 
in groups or singly, which seem to have glided naturally into the 
picture; yet with such thought have they been placed that to 
18 




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remove them would seriously impair the beauty and balance of the 
whole design. They give life and movement to the scene, and often 
in his water-colours afford him a means of introducing a happy note 
of colour, as in the " View in Ghent," reproduced here in facsimile 
(Plate I.). He used them skilfully, too, to indicate the height of 
buildings, to suggest distance, and to lead the eye from one part of 
the picture to another. Like Turner's figures, in many instances they 
are not individually well drawn, but they are never stiff or wooden ; 
they move quietly along some quaint old street, or we find them 
grouped naturally, buying and selling in a busy market-place, while 
in the interior of St. Mark's, Venice (Plate LVIL), Prout has admir- 
ably conveyed in the pose of the worshippers a feeling of reverence. 
In the same drawing, too, and even more in the interior of Milan 
Cathedral (Plate L.), is displayed his remarkable "perception of true 
magnitude." 

Another interesting feature of Prout's art was the manner in which 
he manipulated light and shade in order to obtain the effect of 
chiaroscuro he desired. In his Hints on Light and Shadow he gives 
some indication of his methods and reveals his keen sense of values. 
" The exact quantity of light and shadow cannot be suggested," he 
says, "as different subjects require different proportions. The best 
practice is to form one broad mass, to keep other masses quite subordi- 
nate, and particularly to avoid equal quantities. A point of light, or 
a portion, or object strongly relieved, should always be preserved to 
give clearness and strength to the rest. A similar contrast may be 
repeated in several parts of the picture ; but unless in smaller quanti- 
ties, the intention will be frustrated." A careful examination of 
Prout's drawings, either in water-colour or lithography, will show 
how successfully he applied these principles. The broad distribution 
of light and shade, the richness of the shadows and the play of 
the sunlight, give vivacity to the composition and form some of the 
principal charms of his work. 

Prout's sense of colour was less distinguished than his gift of drawing, 
or it may be that he did not have the same opportunity of developing 
it. As Ruskin has pointed out, the subjects of Cornwall and Devon- 
shire, by which his mind was first formed, were mostly discouraging 
in colour, if not gloomy and offensive ; grey blocks of whinstone, 
black timbers, and broken walls of clay needed no iridescent illustra- 
tion. The Continental subjects of his later period were often quite as 
independent of colour, and the original sketches were made under 
circumstances which restricted him to the use of the lead pencil as 
his medium. Nevertheless, the colour schemes he adopted in many 
of his water-colours were agreeable, if lacking inspiration, and the 

'9 



following extract from one of his letters throws some light on his 
methods: " Avoid patches of colour. The same colour, in a degree, 
should tint every part of your drawing, which may be done by freely 
working one tint in with another ; that is, to let them unite before 
they dry on your paper. Always mix up a good quantity of colour 
before you begin, and rather float in your general tints, than very 
deliberately put one colour on after another." The colours he 
suggests are : 

Reds Indian Red and Lake. 

Browns Burnt Sienna, Vandyke Brown, and Burnt Umber. 

Yellows Raw Sienna, Roman and Yellow Ochre, Dark Brown- 
Pink, and Gamboge. 

Blue Indigo. 

and, he adds, " Byrne's Brown, No. i , is a useful colour for dark touches, 
it being clear and gummy. For waterfalls, keep to grey in your forms 
and light and shade, slightly tinting over it the reflected colours. . . 
In old houses, etc., add Burnt Sienna to your Grey, Dark Brown-Pink, 
Raw Sienna, etc., varying them according to your feeling and the 
knowledge of local tints. In my foregrounds and nearer parts ot 
buildings I sometimes run into dark grey, yellows, and browns, so as 
to render the effect of no colour ; and though it may sometimes appear 
dingy, touches of transparent colour, such as Raw Sienna, Byrne's 
Brown, etc., will clear out your effect." 

Lithography was introduced into this country at the beginning of the 
nineteenth century, and Prout was among the first English artists to 
exploit Senefelder's new process. His earliest dated lithograph is the 
drawing which appeared in Senefelder's Complete Course of Lithography 
(1819) as " A Drawing on Paper transferred on Stone," and he con- 
tributed to some of Hullmandel's publications which were issued 
during the following year. But his finest work upon the stone was 
not produced until some years later when he had mastered the technical 
peculiarities of the medium, and discovered that as a means of render- 
ing the most distinctive feature of his draughtsmanship, the broken 
touch, it was invaluable. He found in lithography, as he had in the 
lead pencil, an ideal means of pictorial expression. As Cosmo Monk- 
house has said, " Of all artists whose works have been reproduced by 
lithography, the typical instance of exact affinity between the artist 
and the process is Prout." His broad and vigorous touch and freedom 
of execution were particularly well adapted for drawing upon the stone, 
and his keen appreciation of the specific qualities of the medium gave to 
his productions an artistic significance which has placed them amongst 
the most successful and best known achievements of their kind. 
20 



Of the lithographic works of Prout the most important, as we have 
already said, are the two series entitled Facsimiles of Sketches made in 
Flanders and Germany and Sketches in France, Switzerland and Italy. 
The first was published in 1833 and the second about six years later. 
Of these folios Ruskin wrote, in his Modern Painters, " Both are fine, 
and the Brussels, Louvain, Cologne, and Nuremberg, subjects of the 
one, together with the Tours, Amboise, Geneva and Sion of the other, 
exhibit substantial qualities of stone and wood drawing, together with 
an ideal appreciation of the present active vital being of the cities, such 
as nothing else has ever approached. Their value is much increased 
by the circumstance of their being drawn by the artist's own hand upon 
the stone, and by the subsequent manly recklessness of subordinate 
parts (in works of this kind, be it remembered, much is subordinate), 
which is of all characters of execution the most refreshing." The 
plates in monotone after Prout shown here are reproduced from these 
two famous series and give a very good idea of the quality and beauty 
of the originals. Of the two sets the Flanders and Germany sketches 
are the more interesting, in that they are drawn with more freedom 
and bear more emphatically the impress of Prout's personal vision and 
touch ; while the drawings of France, Italy and Switzerland are some- 
what laborious in treatment and do not convey the same feeling of 
distinctive spontaneity. The sketches of Flanders and Germany 
number fifty and the average dimensions of the lithographic surface 
are about 17 by 1 1 inches ; the France, Switzerland and Italy folio in- 
cludes only twenty-six drawings, measuring about 16 by 1 1 inches. 
It is not necessary, even if space permitted, to describe in detail the 
various plates, but a brief consideration of the more interesting ot 
them may suffice. To take them in the order in which they appear 
here, we will deal with the French subjects first. The interior of the 
Cathedral atChartres (Plate III.) is an elaborate composition, and some- 
what overwhelmed by the wealth of architectural detail. For this 
reason it compares unfavourably with the dignified rendering of the 
Castle Chapel at Amboise (Plate VI.), which must be accounted 
amongst Prout's finest interiors. Here the carved detail is sufficiently 
defined to show the beauty of its character ; but it has not been 
allowed to disturb the quiet unity of the whole. The drawing of the 
crumbling, broken masonry, and the feeling of height which is given 
to the building by the introduction of the two figures, without which 
it would be impossible to form an idea of the dimensions of the chapel, 
are distinctive of Prout's methods. But perhaps the most successful, 
as it is the most characteristic, of the French set is the drawing ot 
the porch of St. Symphorien, Tours (Plate IV.), which is executed 
with remarkable care and feeling, and displays Prout's happy sense oi 

21 



composition. The play of light upon the group ot figures and upon 
the decorative details of the building is particularly striking and serves to 
give a subtle vitality to the scene. The broken touch is here employed 
with unerringskill and judgment, leaving an agreeable'impression which 
no highly-finished rendering of the subject could ever give. The view 
of the interior of an ancient church at Tours, afterwards used as the 
Corn Hall (Plate V.), is not particularly interesting; the view in Lyons 
showing a bridge over the Saone and the Cathedral of St. Jean to the 
right (Plate VII.) is a pleasing composition, but it does not represent 
the most engaging side of Prout's art. The two Strasbourg drawings 
which follow (we give, as Prout has done, the French spelling) are 
noteworthy for the clever suggestion, especially in Plate IX., of the 
great height of the Minster tower (it rises to 465 feet), which reveals 
Prout's fine sense of scale. Delightfully picturesque are the quaint 
old half-timber houses seen in Plate VIII., showing that the artist was 
as happy in giving the texture of wood as he was in rendering the 
character of old masonry. 

We turn to the drawings of Belgium with mingled feelings of regret 
and gratitude. Regret for the terrible fate which has recently be- 
fallen some of the incomparable monuments of ancient architecture 
they depict ; and gratitude for the precious record of their beauty 
which Prout has left us in these drawings. His sympathy with 
his subjects is manifest, for they appealed to his artistic sense as 
no other scenes had done, stirring him to pictorial eloquence. What 
happy inspiration is revealed in his view in Antwerp (Plate XL) 
with its busy street under the shadow of the noble tower of the 
cathedral. With what care and convincing truth has he drawn 
the Hotel de Ville, Brussels (Plate XII.), one of the most beautiful 
buildings in Belgium, with its graceful tower and crowded market- 
place. Yet for impressive beauty, and as a technical achievement, 
the drawing of the Hotel de Ville, Louvain (Plate XV.), with its 
richness of architectural embellishment cleverly and adequately 
suggested, makes perhaps a deeper appeal. Note, too, how in this 
drawing the lamp which is suspended over the street breaks up 
the monotonous tone of the building. As evidence of Prout's com- 
plete mastery of his medium this lithograph could not be surpassed. 
TheHalles, Bruges (Plate XIII.), dominated by its fine belfry tower, 
has always been a fruitful source of inspiration for artists, but its 
peculiar proportions have never been more strikingly rendered than 
they are here ; though as an example of Prout's delightful sense of 
composition the view of Ghent which follows it is more worthy 
of note. 

And here we may refer to another " View in Ghent," a water-colour 
22 



drawing which is reproduced in colours, as a frontispiece to this 
volume. It is a picturesque composition, and as an example of the 
artist's work in this medium is characteristic. The drawing has been 
executed from a point looking towards the beautiful tower of St. Bavon, 
and on the right is seen a corner of the Hotel de Ville. The reed pen 
outline has been skilfully used and adds considerably to the agreeable 
effect of the whole, while the arrangement of light and shade is a 
pleasing feature of the work. 

In the spacious view in Malines, seen in Plate XVII., the artist's keen 
and comprehensive vision and fine sense of arrangement are well dis- 
played, as is also his masterly draughtsmanship ; nor is he less 
successful in theTournai (Plate XIX.) with its isolated belfry, dating 
from the twelfth century. The view of the Hotel de Ville at Utrecht 
(Plate XX.) should not, strictly speaking, appear in this work, 
but as it is among the best of the Flanders series it was decided to 
include it. 

It is, I venture to think, in his renderings of the mediaeval towns and 
villages of the Rhine that we find Prout in his happiest and most 
alluring mood. Here again his sympathy with his subject is manifest 
in every drawing, and his picturesque interpretation makes an irresist- 
ible appeal. The view in Cologne (Plate XXI.) is not one of the 
most attractive subjects, but as an example of the artist's ability to 
give distinction to a simple composition it is interesting. The draw- 
ing of Andernach, which follows it, is one of the finest of the Rhine 
series, both on account of the rare quality of the draughtsmanship 
and the soft gradation of tones. Referring to the Coblence drawing 
(Plate XXIII.) Ruskin wrote : " I have always held this lithograph 
to show all Prout's qualities in supreme perfection." There are many 
who will agree with this judgment, although there are other drawings 
in this set of which the same might be said with equal justice. A 
remarkable monument is the Roman Pillar at Igel, on the Moselle, 
(Plate XXIV.). The time-worn reliefs representing mythological and 
other scenes are treated with skill and commendable restraint, while 
Prout has once more introduced a figure for the purpose of suggesting 
height. No highly-finished drawing could better convey the decor- 
ated character of the pillar, nor the texture of the sandstone. Seldom 
has the artist pictured a more peaceful and charming scene than the 
Braubach-on-the-Rhine (Plate XXV.), with its quaint and highly- 
ornamented Gasthaus and picturesque group of figures. Noteworthy, 
too, is his simple treatment of the water and of the hills in the back- 
ground. A striking contrast to this restful scene is the view in Mayence 
(Plate XXVI.), with its motley crowd of marketers. With what 
delicate yet certain touch is drawn the cathedral in the background, 

2 3 



bathed in brilliant sunlight. But as an example of skilful treatment 
of light and shade the street scene in Frankfurt (Plate XXVII.) is 
even more notable. The old Saxon houses seen on the right are inter- 
esting and present an opportunity to the artist for the display of his 
wood drawing. The second drawing of Frankfurt, with the noble 
cathedral tower rising in the background, is more truly characteristic 
of Prout. The view in Wiirzburg (Plate XXIX.) is a striking com- 
position, with the fortress of Marienberg in the distance and the old 
main bridge adorned with statues of saints ; but it is probable that the 
second view of the town interested the artist more, for it gave greater 
opportunity for picturesque treatment. The two views of Bamberg 
which follow do not call for special mention. 

The drawing of Nuremberg (Plate XXXIII.) is in many ways one of 
the most arresting compositions Prout ever produced. It is permeated 
with that spirit of romance and mediaeval legend which one associates 
with the town and recalls those lines of Longfellow's poem which 
seem to bear a special significance at the present time : 

" Not thy Councils, nor thy Kaisers, win for thee the world's regard ; 
But thy painter, Albrecht Ddrer, and Hans Sachs, the cobbler-bard." 

Prout has interpreted the scene in the spirit of the poet, informing it 
with an almost dramatic beauty. The drawing of the well at Nurem- 
berg (Plate XXXIV. )has a peculiar interest on account of a remarkable 
statement Ruskin made regarding it. " This study is one of the most 
beautiful," he wrote, " but also, one of the most imaginative that 
ever Prout made highly exceptional and curious. The speciality of 
Nuremberg is, that its walls are of stone, but its windows especially 
those in the roof, for craning-up merchandise are of wood. All the 
projecting windows and all the dormers in this square are of wood. 
But Prout could not stand the inconsistency, and deliberately petrifies 
all the wood. Very naughty of him ! I have nothing to say in 
extenuation of this offence ; and, alas ! secondly, the houses have, in 
reality, only three stories, and he has put a fourth on, out of his inner 
consciousness ! I never knew him do such a thing before or since ; 
but the end of it is, that the drawing of Nuremberg is immensely 
more Nuremberg than the town itself, and quite a glorious piece ot 
mediaeval character." 

Of the two Ratisbon subjects (Plates XXXV. and XXXVI.), that ot 
the peculiar triangular porch of the cathedral is a fine example of 
Prout's drawing of the more robust character, executed with a frank- 
ness and confidence which are somewhat lacking in the second view, 
though this, too, is broadly treated. Another virile drawing is that 
of the Town Hall at Ulm (Plate XXXVIIL), with its highly ornate 
fountain, and rather violent contrasts of light and shade. It is a 
24 



well-balanced composition carefully considered in every detail, a faith- 
ful interpretation, one is convinced, of the scene. One of the least 
attractive subjects in the German series is the view in Munich 
(Plate XXXIX.), though it contains much excellent and careful 
drawing. The two towers of the Frauen-Kirche, seen in the distance, 
surmounted by heavy cupolas, do not add beauty to the scene. An 
interesting example of Gothic architecture is the old Town Hall at 
Brunswick (Plate XL.), its open arcade, embellished with graceful 
traceries and figures of Saxon princes and their wives, possessing a 
decided decorative significance. Note also the artist's simple but 
effective treatment of the roofs. The three drawings of the Zwinger, 
Dresden (Plates XLI..XLII. and XLIII.),are skilfully executed, but it 
is doubtful whether the rococo ornamentation seen here really interested 
Prout, for the drawings do not reveal the same sympathy between the 
artist and his theme which one feels in most of the examples under 
consideration. The other Dresden drawing, too (Plate XLIV.), lacks 
the impress of Prout's artistic personality and pictorial outlook. But 
we find them again in the five Prague subjects which follow, all ot 
them admirable ; and especially in the beautiful tower of the gateway 
(Plate XLVL), which the artist has rendered with delightful freedom 
and ample definition, in the Hotel de Ville (Plate XLVIL), and in 
the Thein Church (Plate XLIX.). 

Reference has already been made to Prout's drawings of Italy (p. 18), 
and a careful examination of the examples shown here will, I venture 
to think, bear out my contention. At the same time it is not sug- 
gested that in his renderings of Italian scenes there is any lowering 
of Prout's artistic standard, but that his technique was not so well 
adapted to the successful representation of Italian architecture as it 
was to that of the more northern countries. Indeed, many of his Italian 
drawings are particularly beautiful in composition and pictorial 
conception, and some of the Venice subjects reveal a refinement of 
vision which is only found in the work of a master. Take, for instance, 
those oft-repeated themes, The Rialto (Plate LIII.), S. Maria della 
Salute (Plate LI V.), and the Ducal Palace (Plate LVI.) ; no artist has 
ever visualized them with more picturesque eloquence, nor suggested 
more successfully the glamour and spirit of the City of the Sea. 
Two of Prout's finest renderings of interiors figure in the Italian series 
of drawings, viz., Milan Cathedral (Plate L.) and S. Mark's, Venice 
(Plate LVIL). Both exemplify the artist's sense of scale and magni- 
tude, height and spaciousness being suggested with rare skill. The 
subtle gradations of light and shade are well managed, especially in the 
Venice drawing, where the richness of the darker parts and the touches 
of white, introduced to heighten the lights, add considerably to the 

25 



beauty of the composition. Yet in its quiet dignity and imposing 
grandeur the Milan drawing will probably make the more lasting 
impression. Two other Italian subjects, Domo d'Ossola (Plate LI.) 
and Como (Plate LIL), should also be noticed. 
Of the Swiss drawings that of Schaffhausen (Plate LXI.) is not only a 
delightful composition, but it is especially noteworthy for the beauty 
of its tone values, and for that reason it is one of the most successful 
of the artist's efforts upon the stone. The cathedral at Lausanne 
(Plate LXIV.) is another splendid example of the lithographer's art. 
Note the pleasant luminous effect achieved by the strong light on the 
porch and by the beauty of the shadows. Of the two Basle drawings 
that of the fountain is the more characteristic, the details of the 
decoration being admirably drawn. The two views in Geneva do not 
represent the artist at his best, but his drawing of old houses at Sion 
(Plate LXV.), which, in spite of economy of line, has ample definition 
and contains all the essential pictorial features, is an attractive and 
interesting composition. 

It is hardly necessary to point out that the drawings we have been 
considering in the foregoing pages have an historical as well as an 
artistic value; for they are beautiful and faithful records of old buildings, 
many of which have been materially changed by restoration, or have 
entirely disappeared. In most of the old towns the cathedrals and 
churches are all that remains of the quaint and picturesque scenes 
which Prout depicted with such loving care and expressive eloquence ; 
and it is a matter for congratulation that he lived and worked before 
the march of modernisation and the craving for so-called improve- 
ment had swept away or irretrievably spoiled these noble relics of past 
ages. His wonderful series of Continental drawings is a precious 
heritage, the significance of which was never more apparent than it 
is to-day. 



26 



PLATE III 




CHARTRES 



PLATE IV 




TOURS 




TOURS 



PLATE VI 




AMBOISE 



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E 




PLATE VIII 







STRASBOURG 




STRASBOURG 



PLATE X 




STRASBOURG 




ANTWERP 



PLATE XII 




BRUSSELS 



PLATE XIII 




BRUGES 



PLATE XIV 




GHENT 



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LOUVAIN 



PLATE XVI 




MALINES 



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PLATE XIX 




TOURNAI 



PLATE XX 




UTRECHT 



PLATE XXI 







COLOGNE 



PLATE XXII 




ANDERNACH 



PLATE XXPII 




COBLENCE 



PLATE XXIV 




IGEL 



PLATE XXV 




BRAUBACH 



PLATE XXVI 




MAYENCE 



PLATE XXVII 




FRANKFURT 



PLATE XXVIII 




FRANKFURT 



PLATE XXX 




WiJRZBURG 



PLATE XXXI 







BAMBERG 



PLATE XXXII 




BAMBERG 



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PLATE XXXIV 




NUREMBERG 



PLATE XXXV 




RATISBON 



PLATE XXXVI 




RATISBON 



PLATE XXXVII 



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AUGSBURG 



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PLATE XL 










BRUNSWICK 



PLATE XLI 




DRESDEN 



PLATE XLII 




DRESDEN 



PLATE XLIM 




DRESDEN 



PLATE XLIV 




DRESDEN 



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PLATE XLVI 



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PRAGUE 



PLATE XLVM 




PRAGUE 



PLATE XLVIII 




PRAGUE 



PLATE XLIX 



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PLATE L 




MILAN 



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PLATE UVII 




VENICE 



PLATE LVII1 







ROME 



PLATE LIX 




BASLE 



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PLATE LXIII 




GENEVA 



PLATE LXIV 




LAUSANNE 



PLATE LXV 




SIGN 











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UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO 
LIBRARY 



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